Monday, August 15, 2011

"What hope is made of..."

"A dissenter might argue ... that the concept of obligations to the future makes no sense at all. The future does not exist. How can we have a responsibility to nothing at all? Or even if future beings can be imagined to exist, how can we know what their interests are, or what they might ask of us? How can there be obligations to abstractions?

"... people show strong loyalty to abstractions every time they act in ways that honor conceptual ideals such as freedom, liberty, and prosperity. Loyalty to abstractions is the stuff of this world. Arguments about responsibility to the future do indeed require us to imagine a world that does not yet exist. They further require us to be morally moved by that imagined vision. Loyalty to what we can only imagine is what hope is made of."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Even the most conscientious probably can't claim only their just portion of the world's resources right off the bat. At the very least, though, you can acknowledge that your life is fundamentally unfair. There will be no arguments that you ought to have more than say, a Bangladeshi, or that you have a right to be richer. And it's worse than that. Even as you lead an unjustifiably consumptive life, it will be gracious to acknowledge that not only are you taking more than your fair share, but your lifelong history of taking more than your fair share has in fact exponentially increased the undeserved suffering of others. So there is a reparations issue to deal with as well.

"Next step? At this point, we'd all better tithe, donating 10 percent of our annual incomes to climate action or mitigation of the affects of climate change on the less advantaged. That's 10 percent that goes toward our debt to the world's poor, and it's 10 percent less that we're spending on consumer items that will hurt them even more. That's a minimally decent start."

From Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson (Trinity University Press, 2010).

If we could come face-to-face...

If we could come face-to-face with the ecological devastation that we casually leave in our wake, would we change our ways?

"Let no species disappear without public notice. If our ways of life are going to destroy infinitudes of lives, let us at least do so knowingly, and grieve for the terrible loss. Evolution is an infinitely branching tree. Each branch branches again, and branches again, budding and branching, a beautiful and endless complexity. Killing off a species not only wipes that creature off the earth forever; it also lops off the budding branch, eliminating for all time the infinite variation that might have grown from that limb. This is a loss literally beyond imagining. It is also a loss that is largely invisible."

"Create art that fills the forests with death notices. Transform every stump in the clearcut into a cross, so no one can drive by a ruined hillside without seeing it for what it is--a graveyard that stretches for miles. Let the roadside bloom with shrines adorned with plastic flowers to mark the extinctions of sparrows. Post 'missing persons' notices for the white-headed woodpeckers that used to frequent the ponderosa forest. Send an obituary to the newspaper each spring, when the frogs do not sing. Howl across the lake for the gray wolves that once roamed North America. Assemble the choir and sing hymns as the bulldozers gouge out the last checker-lilies in the valley. Print pictures of ivory-billed woodpeckers on milk cartons. Rent a hearse and follow the truck that sprays poisons in the ditches."

From Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson (Trinity University Press, 2010).

Friday, August 5, 2011

"I have a heart."


A leaf says,
"Sweethearts - don't pick me,
For I am busy doing
God's work.
I am lowering my veins and roots
Like ropes
With buckets tied to them
Into the earth's deep
I am drawing water
That I offer like a rose to
The sky.
I am a singing cleaning woman
Dusting all the shelves in
The air
With my elegant green
I have a heart.
I can know happiness like

A poem by Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky in The Subject Tonight Is Love

I Am What the Universe Is Doing

Thoughts from an address by Bruce Sanguin:

"On a silent retreat in Narragansett, Rhode Island, 20 years ago I had an enlightenment experience in which I realized my essential unity with all of creation. My dualistic worldview--a product of modernism--collapsed. I knew myself to be the self-reflexive consciousness of the universe. I was the universe noticing the universe, reflecting upon itself, dreaming as the universe about a new future. I no longer walked upon the earth located outside of me. I knew myself to be the earth in human form. I was what the universe was doing. And everything I gazed out upon--the water, the birds, the grass blowing in the wind--was sacred. Every thing and every body pulsated with an interior sacred dimension. Sitting here today, being in conversation with each other, dreaming of a better future for our planet and for the left-behinds of the world, we are the universe in conversation; we are the consciousness of the planet coalescing; we are the planet plotting a resurrection."

Found at

Monday, August 1, 2011

"One-fifth of your current use..."

"To act justly is to take no more than one's fair share of the Earth's resources, including the capacity of the atmosphere to absorb carbon dioxide without causing major climatic change. Simply take the population of the Earth and divide it into the available resources; the resultant number will tell you the share of resources you can fairly claim. Unfortunately, if you are an average American, this number will be approximately one-fifth of your current use."

"Think hard about the most important personal decision you will make: Whether to bring children into the world. It's easy to think of overpopulation as a moral failing of other people, other religions, other continents. But if you have more than one or two children, overpopulation is a moral problem in your household. No one 'deserves' more children than anyone else; in fact, affluent Americans may have difficulty claiming even equal rights to children, given the global impacts of our lifestyles and life spans. Overpopulation in a time of climate crisis creates terrible problems of distributive justice; overpopulation coupled with overconsumption creates injustice that is exponentially worse."

From Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson (Trinity University Press, 2010).